Monday, January 30, 2012

Finding my lungs

Somewhere on the Longest Day Ride I dropped my lungs. Or it might have been the next day evacuating the airport during the earthquakes, maybe I left them on the floor when I tried to crawl under a chair because I thought the light fittings were going to bounce out of the ceiling and onto me. All I know is that since then I’ve been really struggling with having any lung capacity.

This was shown to me clearly when I ventured up Rapaki for the first time in a year. The geotechs and blasters have finished their work and the track is now officially open, although users are warned to “Stay away!” if they are uncomfortable with the ever present risk of rocks bouncing down on their noggins.  I chuckled to see my old friend Danger Officer Commander employing his mighty forearms to repel the deadly rocks and then headed up the track in the sun.

Rapaki is as it ever was, wide and smooth, although a couple of ruts have opened up and filled with deep gravel which could make descending slightly perilsome. As the hot sun beat down on me I was passed by a runner like I was standing still, which I almost was. I was really struggling. In fact I was going almost as slow as the first time I ever rode up Rapaki. My lack of breath was shown to me all to clearly when not too far from the top I had to stop! I just couldn’t catch my breath. Not good.
At the top I lay in the tussocks and enjoyed the stunning view while learning to breathe again. Finally I slowly drifted up the road and across the traverse and then down Sesame St and Dyers Rd. Back to bed with me after that ride.

Last Thursday my hubby and I took a day trip to Hanmer and I was hoping my lungs would be feeling much improved so I could enjoy the flowing tracks. Unfortunately this was not to be and at the halfway point of the climb up Mach 1 I was already struggling. Mach 1 was in mint condition and riding great so even though I wasn’t riding well I still loved it. We very naughtily decided to investigate the progress on reinstating Bigfoot. I ground slowly up the road while hubby took the more difficult option of heading up the Joliffe Track. At the carpark at the top hubby headed into the reinstated Fir Trail while I began the slow process of climbing the 17 switchbacks up Bigfoot.

This section of track hasn’t really been effected by the logging and was mint, although I found that I really struggled with right hand switchbacks and lost my front wheel twice resulting in tree-hugging to save myself. I had to stop a few times on the climb, which was no surprise and hubby caught up with me. Then the descent began. I should really title this naughty ride Blood, Sweat and Fears, because after sweating my way up to the top I was completely freaked out riding down.

Of course this was our own fault for riding a track that isn’t open and ready to be riding yet. With the trees gone and the sharp stones the lie beneath the surface exposed and loose it was nerve jangling riding down. The track is narrower and falls away quickly down the steep banks and what were once fun grippy corners now felt like loose death traps. Finally I came to grief in a steep tight turn where my bike got into the loose stuff and I just couldn’t get it to turn. Skin on knees be gone! After this I ended up walking a couple more of the corners and decided that I probably deserved to lose some skin for riding a closed track. BAD GIRL!

After this we headed up Detox which was in great condition, but I’d lost my bottle and failed to ride the little rock drop. By the bottom I was spent and riding like a complete muppet so I headed back to the car while hubby went out to ride Red Rocks, Swoop, Swamp Track and Yankee Zypher. He came back to the car with bleeding forearms after being attacked by brambles on the more over grown tracks.

So not my best ride in Hanmer and I was feeling a little dejected about my lack of fitness after this adventure. I was also feeling intense burning pain when I applied the liquid plaster to my grazes. Wow that stuff hurts!
Freshly cleaned graze looks fairly minor
Two days later is looking pretty rough and is still owie

So I was a little apprehensive about heading to Living Springs yesterday. The 4wd track climb here is not my friend, I’ve only managed to ride up it a few times and usually I’m ready to pass out by the top. Yesterday I actually rode up it with relative ease. I say relative because to a normal fit person it would have looked like a struggle, but for me it was really good. We sifted around the rest of the tracks, my lovely friend Michelle showing her friend how to ride the lovely tight corners of Zanes. I had my flow on and it was a brilliant ride. But the end of the lap I was feeling so confident we decided to take a look at the Canyon Drop. A very steep pinch climb leads you into a big rollover down a rock into a canyon (surprisingly enough).

As I rolled in to have a look at it I lost my bottle, that thing is steep and a long way down. The lovely Michelle showed me how it was done and then I was rolling in and committed. WEeeeeeee! My forks bottomed out as I hit the bottom and then I was safely zooming out. Awesome.

After that we drove up to Brake Free and sessioned that for a while and I’ve start to get some confidence over jumps again. Then in a fit a madness I decided I wanted to ride down Sesame St and bike back up the hideous steep 4wd track. I was pretty impressed that I managed to ride most of it and only lost my front wheel once! Then an out and back along the Traverse and I was grinning ear to ear. By far the best ride I’ve had in ages. I was really flowing well and rode the Traverse cleaner than I ever have before.  I’m really looking forward to heading back down for more time on the Queenstown tracks this week. Come on fitness, I know you’re there somewhere!

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